Richard Rohr is a Franciscan teacher and founder of the Centre for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. He has a worldwide ministry and is the author of numerous books. Many of them have strongly scriptural themes.
In recent years his attention has been drawn to the development of our inner discipleship. What is it that strengthens our convictions? How do we let our faith shape and be shaped by the passage of time?
Eager to Love is the summit of this output. He bases his material firmly in the life of his mentor Francis of Assisi.
Whilst its North American background is evident this is Rohr’s attempt to put down his own convictions. It would be a helpful summary for both new readers and others who have read his earlier material.
For Rohr, Francis was a Christian mystic whose faith was grounded in the life of Jesus and embraced by the universal compassion of Christ.
He defines mysticism as ’experiential knowledge of spiritual things as opposed to book knowledge, second-hand knowledge or even church knowledge’.
He states that for Francis there was one enduring insight: the visible world is an active doorway to the invisible world, and the invisible world is much larger than the visible. The book goes on to focus among others on contemplation , justice, masculine and feminine spirituality and it has helpful chapters on Clare, Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus all of whom developed the intuitive approach to belief that Francis embraced.
It concludes with three appendices in which Rohr reveals some of the more rigorous study that has gone on in the background to this book. The most interesting is an exploration of the Cosmic Christ. Rohr challenges the sort of faith that isolates Jesus from the Trinity and worships Jesus without recognising Christ. This is a significant challenge to the over simplistic proclamation of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
He writes: We have made Christ into Jesus’s last name instead of realising it was the description of his cosmic role in history and in all world religions. I fully believe that there has never been a single soul that was not possessed by the Christ, even in the ages before the Incarnation.
This is heady stuff but goes to the heart of the faith of Francis and invites a response.
This review was originally published in The Baptist Times in May 2015.